On behalf of the Hamilton Public Library Board of Trustees, I am delighted to announce that on Monday, April 9, we are eliminating late fees. This will cover any overdue fees associated with any item checked out of our building, and any fines accrued up to this point.
Our reasons for taking this step forward are many, the most important being that late fees create a potential barrier to literacy and information. We would prefer to be the institution that encourages kids to take out as many books as they want – it is not up to us to teach them fiscal responsibility.
This change, while new to Hamilton, is part of a growing local trend. Last year, 12 other libraries in the MidYork Library System eliminated late fees, including Utica, Rome, Clinton, Whitesboro, and Ilion. In total, 26 of the libraries in our system have ‘moved on’ from late fees, but not all are new to this trend. “Eliminating fines was one of the first things I did when I started at the library 25 years ago,” said Norm Parry, Director of the New Woodstock Free Library. “I’ve never regretted it.”
If we want to continue to push the boundaries of what defines us as an institution in the 21st Century, this is a necessary step in our evolution. Collecting fees was a great way for our community to help the library, eliminating fees is a great way for us to help our community.
So why April 9 and not right now? Well, this is a big change for us, and for our patrons. We need a little time to discuss this change with our patrons and staff, update circulation policies in our system, and April 9 is the first day in National Library Week! What better way to celebrate than by making a big change to say ‘thank you’ to all our patrons. Without you there would be no library. Besides, if we did it on April 1, nobody would believe us.